The task of turning Stephen King’s The Stand into a feature-length movie has long been viewed as a difficult one at best (a near-insurmountable challenge at worst), for one simple reason: the original book – which varies from 800-1100 pages long, depending on the edition – is divided into three segments which could each suffice as an individual film on its own (amusingly, it’s the opposite of the dilemma facing Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, where one book is stretched over three films).
Ben Affleck was recruited by Warner Bros. a year ago to help screenwriter David Kajganich (Blood Creek) condense King’s tome into a manageable size, with the plan for Affleck to direct. The Oscar-winner has since been linked to other projects – and with good reason, given the (lack of) progress being made on The Stand.
For the uninitiated, King’s novel is composed of three sections. The first (“Captain Trips”) details the collapse of our civilization as the result of a human-engineered super flu; the second (“On the Border”) picks up in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the few survivors rally around two spiritual leaders (one for good, the other evil); the third segment (“The Stand”) chronicles the final confrontation between the dual human camps, in a battle that will determine the future of our world.
Here is what Affleck had to offer GQ about adapting all three portions of The Stand:
“Right now we’re having a very hard time,” he says. “But I like the idea—it’s like The Lord of the Rings in America. And it’s about how we would reinvent ourselves as a society. If we started all over again, what would we do?”
Affleck is riding high on the success of his true story-based historical drama/thriller Argo, which has improved on both the critical reception and financial returns from his previous directorial efforts (Gone Baby Gone and The Town). However, King’s horror/sci-fi/apocalypse epic is another monster altogether – one that’s worlds apart from Affleck’s past adaptations – which makes it all the more understandable that the actor/filmmaker and Kajganich are struggling to make progress on The Stand.
Reports emerged last month that Affleck is considering an adaptation of Live By Night, which would be based on the novel by Dennis Lehane (author of Gone Baby Gone). Indeed, it might be best that Affleck divert his attention to other projects for a while, since the process of streamlining The Stand is proving so difficult. That way, he can continue sharpening and improving his skills as a filmmaker, in order to be better prepared to realize King’s story on the big screen (once the script has been properly finished, that is).
Are you interested in a film version of The Stand, with Affleck behind the wheel? Or do you feel the only way to do the novel justice is to extend it out into a full-blown trilogy (one which infuses the story with a blockbuster sensibility that was lacking in the well-known 1994 TV mini-series adaptation)?